Coming Back to Life

Coming Back to Life : The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects

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Deepening global crises surround us. We are beset by climate change, fracking, tar sands extraction, GMOs, and mass extinctions of species, to say nothing of nuclear weapons proliferation and Fukushima, the worst nuclear disaster in history. Many of us fall prey to despair even as we feel called to respond to these threats to life on our planet. Authors Joanna Macy and Molly Brown address the anguish experienced by those who would confront the harsh realities of our time. In this fully updated edition of Coming Back to Life, they show how grief, anger, and fear are healthy responses to threats to life, and when honored can free us from paralysis or panic, through the revolutionary practice of the Work that Reconnects. New chapters address working within the corporate world, and engaging communities of color as well as youth in the Work. The Work that Reconnects has spread around the world, inspiring hundreds of thousands to work toward a life-sustaining human culture. Coming Back to Life introduces the Work's theoretical foundations, illuminating the angst of our era with extraordinary insight.
Pointing the way forward out of apathy, it offers personal counsel as well as easy-to-use methods for group work that profoundly affect peoples' outlook and ability to act in the world. Joanna Macy is a scholar, eco-philosopher, teacher, activist, and author of twelve previous books including Coming Back to Life. Molly Young Brown is a teacher, trainer, counselor, and author of four previous books on psychology and Earth-based spirituality.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 153 x 229 x 25mm | 553g
  • Gabriola Island, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • B&W photos
  • 0865717753
  • 9780865717756
  • 4,083

Back cover copy


If you want true wisdom for tough times, if you want to connect with your joy even in the midst of sadness, if you want to see new life arise out of despair, Coming Back to Life has my highest possible recommendation. John Robbins, author, Diet For A New America and co-founder and president, The Food Revolution Network

Coming Back to Life gives voice to our generations' psalms, praises, and lamentations, our call for justice. It provides practices and meditations so we can make sense of who we are. This book is our wisdom text. Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director, Science and Environmental Health Network, co-founder, Women's Congress for Future Generations.

DEEPENING GLOBAL CRISES surround us, causing many to fall prey to denial and despair. Coming Back to Life shows how grief, anger and fear are healthy responses to the harsh realities of our time, and that when honored through the revolutionary practice of the Work That Reconnects, they can free us from paralysis and move us toward creative action.

This new, completely updated edition of the classic text illuminates the extraordinary Work that has inspired hundreds of thousands to make strides towards the creation of a life-sustaining human culture. Authors Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown introduce the Work's theoretical foundations, revealing the angst of our era with remarkable insight. Pointing the way forward out of apathy, they offer personal counsel as well as easy-to-use methods for group process that profoundly affect people's outlook and ability to act in the world.

A must for all who want to mobilize humanity in service of all beings. These concepts, exercises, and meditations have proven to work across generations, religions, ethnicities and races. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director of Social Justice Organizing, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

JOANNA MACY, eco-philosopher and root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, has authored 13 books including World As Lover, World As Self .

MOLLY YOUNG BROWN, teacher, trainer, and life coach, has authored and edited 6 books, including Growing Whole: Self-Realization for the Great Turning .
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Table of contents

Message from Dalai Lama
Foreword by Matthew Fox
Preface by Joanna Macy
Preface by Molly Young Brown

Chapter 1: To Choose Life We Can Still Opt for a Life-Sustaining World Choosing Our Story
1. Business As Usual
2. The Great Unraveling
3. The Great Turning
The Great Turning
1. Holding Actions in Defense of Life
2. Transforming the Foundations of Our Common Life
3. Shift in Perception and Values

Chapter 2: The Greatest Danger - The Deadening of Heart and Mind What is Pain for the World?
What Deadens Heart and Mind?
Fear of Pain
Fear of Despair
Other Spiritual Traps
Fear of Not Fitting In
Distrust of Our Own Intelligence
Fear of Guilt
Fear of Distressing Loved Ones
View of Self as Separate
Hijacked Attention
Fear of Powerlessness
Fear of Knowing - and Speaking
Mass Media
Job and Time Pressures
Social Violence
The Cost of Blocking Our Pain for the World
Impeded Cognitive Functioning Impeded Access to the Unconscious
Impeded Instinct for Self-Preservation
Impeded Eros
Impeded Empathy
Impeded Imagination
Impeded Feedback
Coming Back to Life

Chapter 3: The Basic Miracle - Our True Nature and Power Living Systems Theory
How Life Self-Organizes
Water, Fire and Web
Gaia Theory
Deep Ecology
Beyond Anthropocentrism
The Ecological Self
Asking Deeper Questions
Ancient Spiritual Teachings
Abrahamic Religions
Asian Traditions
Indigenous Spirituality
The Miracle of Mind
Self as Choice Maker
Positive Disintegration
We Are the World
The Nature of Our Power
Power Over
Power With
Power Over Blocks Feedback
The Power of Disclosure
Synergy and Grace

Chapter 4: What Is The Work That Reconnects? History of the Work
Aims of the Work
Basic Assumptions of the Work
The Spiral of the Work
The Shambhala Prophecy
The Work That Reconnects in Corporate Settings

Chapter 5: Guiding The Work That Reconnects The Value of Working in Groups Tasks of the Facilitator
Foundations of Good Facilitation
Capacities of an Excellent Guide
Engaging Full Participation
Working With Strong Emotions
Guidelines for Conducting Rituals
Workshop Setting and Arrangements
Opening The Workshop
Closing The Workshop
Ongoing Support for the Guide

Chapter 6: Coming From Gratitude Gratitude: Teaching Points
Becoming Present through Breath, Movement,Sound and Silence
Introductions with Gratitude
Open Sentences
Open Sentences on Gratitude
Gratitude Rounds
Mirror Walk
Open Sentences on the Great Turning
The Wheel of the Great Turning
The Elm Dance
The Presence of Gratitude Throughout the Work

Chapter 7: Honoring Our Pain For The World Our Inner Responses to Suffering and Destruction Practices
Small Groups on the Great Unraveling
Open Sentences on Honoring Our Pain
Breathing Through
The Milling
Reporting to Chief Seattle
The Bestiary
We Have Forgotten Who We Are
"I Don't Care"
Cairn of Mourning
Truth Mandala
Despair Ritual
Bowl of Tears
Spontaneous Writing
Imaging with Colors and Clay

Chapter 8: Seeing With New Eyes Brain Food
Key Teaching Points
Advice for Conveying These Concepts
The Systems Game
Riddle of the Commons Game
When I Made a Difference
Widening Circles
The Cradling
Who Are You?
Dance to Dismember the Ego
Bodhisattva Check-In
Council of All Beings

Chapter 9: Deep Time - Reconnecting with Past and Future Generations To Reinhabit Time
Invoking the Beings of the Three Times
Open Sentences on Time
The Evolutionary Gifts of the Animals
Harvesting the Gifts of the Ancestors
Audio Recording to the Future
Letter from the Future
The Seventh Generation
Field Work on the Great Turning
The Storytellers Convention

Chapter 10: Going Forth Discoveries Made So Far in the Spiral
Communicating Our Concerns and Hopes
Life Map
Imaging Our Power
The Sword in the Stone
Callings and Resources
Consultation Groups
The Clearness Committee
Dialoging with Mara to Strengthen Our Resolve
Bowing to Our Adversaries
Creating Study/Action Groups
The Four Abodes
Five Vows
Circle of Blessings
Two Poems for the Road Ahead

Chapter 11: The Work That Reconnects with Children and Teens What Do Children Know and Feel?
The Effects of Silence
Suggestions for Overcoming the Fear and the Silence
Using the Work That Reconnects
Generation Waking Up
Practices for Children and Teens
Mothers and Daughters Follow the Spiral
Talking Circle
The Human Camera
Honoring Our Pain for the World
Open Sentences
Milling with Open Sentences
Two Stories of the Truth Mandala with Children
Boom Chicka Boom with Feelings
Seeing with New Eyes
The Web of Life
Our Life As Gaia
The Robot Game
The Council of All Beings in a School Setting
Going Forth
Open Sentences for Going Forth
Starfish Story and Ritual
The Galactic Council
Planning Actions

Chapter 12: Learning with Communities of Color Part One by Joanna Macy
Getting Started
Honoring Our Ancestors
The Immensity of the Pain
How the Pain of People of Color is Pathologized
Seeing the Industrial Growth Society with New Eyes
Time for Deep Cultural Awakening
Part Two by Patricia St. Onge
Walking Toward the Work That Reconnects
Deep Culture as a Lens
Weaving the Threads Together
Part Three by Adelaja Simon, Adrian Villasenor Galarza and Andres Thomas Conteris.
Part Four: Sharing the Work That Reconnects with First Nationsby Andrea Avila

Chapter 13: Meditations for the Great Turning The Web of Life
Gaia Meditation
Death Meditation
Breathing Through
The Great Ball of Merit
The Four Abodes
Two Litanies

Appendix A: Chief Seattle's Message
Appendix B: The Bestiary by Joanna Macy
Appendix C: Ethics and Declarations of Rights
Appendix D: Bodywork and Movement and Using the Spiral in Writing

About the Authors
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About Joanna R. Macy

Joanna Macy is a scholar, eco-philosopher, teacher and activist who has developed an international following in over 30 years as a speaker and workshop leader on Buddhist philosophy and the deep ecology movement. She is the author of 8 books including the original Coming Back to Life and Widening Circles, and she has produced a 3-DVD set entitled The Work that Reconnects. Molly Young Brown has been a trainer, workshop leader and consultant for many years. The author of three previous books on spirituality and healing the environment, including Growing Whole: Self-Realization on an Endangered Planet, she teaches at the Graduate School of Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University, and is based in the San Francisco Bay area.
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86 ratings
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4 30% (26)
3 12% (10)
2 3% (3)
1 2% (2)
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